New Book from Stant Litore: On The Other Side of the Night

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New from Stant Litore: On the Other Side of the Night (How Science Fiction and Fantasy Can Help Us Through Our Dark Hour)

“We are enduring the long night. Our people are ill and dying of a new disease. Our societies, at home and abroad, are beset by fascism—a shadow that, like Sauron’s in Mordor, has found new opportunity to take shape and grow again. Climate change sends devastating heat waves, forest fires, and hurricanes to our shores. At every hour, faces on television and voices on Twitter are telling us to fear, fear, fear, like the drumbeat of our heart going too fast. Tragically, because death or extinction is too terrifying, because disease and ecological disaster are too frightful, we turn our fears on each other instead. Those others, they are what we must fear, our leaders and too many of our storytellers insist. We are being asked to accept small-minded stories that make our hearts smaller, when we are in most need of larger stories that make our hearts bigger.

“When this time passes, if we strive only to ‘go back’ to how things were, to the injustices and unsustainable complacency that constricted our society before the pandemic, then we will be the most pitiable of fools. This is a time to imagine better, improbable, impossible futures. How we make it through this long night together will be dependent on the stories we tell and the stories we are willing to hear, as we face each other across the fire with our backs to the long dark. There are gifts of hope tucked inside these tales like trinkets or treasures tucked inside nested Russian dolls. Here, I’ll show you what I mean. Come closer to the fire. Let’s talk.”

Find the book here, in paperback and kindle editions: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HXBPTJG

2 Stant Litore Trilogies in a Great Deal

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Hi everyone! I’m delighted to let you know that for a while, you can get the entire Ansible Saga and the omnibus Colosseums for Dinosaurs (in their ebook editions) for just $15, here. Come check it out!

These adventures await you:

In Colosseums for Dinosaurs, a far-future empire’s Independence Day is celebrated by dinosaur races and gladiatorial games on the backs of armored titans. Join us aboard the orbital colosseums! This omnibus edition includes: The Running of the Tyrannosaurs, Nyota’s Tyrannosaur,  and The Screaming of the Tyrannosaur.

In Ansible: A Thousand Faces, collecting all three volumes of Ansible, 25th century Islamic explorers transfer their minds across space and time to make first contact…and get marooned in alien bodies on alien worlds. Along the way, they encounter the most dangerous predator humanity has ever faced. And that species knows where earth is.  Now a Syrian refugee, a thirteenth-century librarian, and a hijabi shapeshifter from the far future must travel across space and time to defend humanity from this intergalactic and devouring evil.

They’ll find allies: A wheelchair gunslinger from far-future Beijing. A legion of women soldiers wielding Spinning Saws that can slice through predators that only barely exist inside our universe. A strange child-empath who can hear all of humanity’s suffering at every instant in history. A firestarter-goddess from our prehistory. Together, they will face a species that travels across time and feeds on terror itself.

Formats available:

MOBI (kindle) and EPUB (all other ereaders).

Here’s what readers have to say about Colosseums for Dinosaurs:

“This is a pulse-pounding story, a triumph of world-building – a story of gladiatorial combat and of bonds strange and transcendent. Without a doubt, one of the most enthralling stories I’ve come across.” – Samuel Peralta, The Future Chronicles

“Stant Litore turns a concept that would be clunky, camp, or just plain weird in other hands into something as natural as feeling the stretch of your own muscles when you move…” – O.E. Tearmann, author of The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild)

“Wielding elegant prose and tightly-focused characters, Stant Litore cuts deep into the science-fiction realm of bio-engineered dinosaurs and high-tech bread and circuses with a physically enhanced female gladiator whose personal tragedy is as powerful as her victories in the arena. Her story echoes in the heart long after it is told.” – Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., author of Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders

Here’s what readers have to say about Ansible:

“Stant Litore may be SF’s premier poet of loneliness.” – Jason Kirk, author of Reverb and The Other Whites in South Africa

“Litore’s stories aren’t only entertaining. They are stories invading our lives, unexpectedly. You encounter them, as you might encounter people. They are those random elements in life that happen to you, like a mugging, like childbirth, like falling in love and marriage, like death and the funeral that follows. They are moments that leave a mark, and leave you changed.” – Andrew Hallam, Ph.D., Metropolitan State University of Denver

“Stant eloquently writes passages that are so moving, full of passion, fury, loneliness, blind drive … He takes us to places of amazing beauty, awe-inspiring, as well as places where the implications in the story can leave you almost in despair for the human race.” – Nikki Ebright, Director, Shiny Garden

Get all six books – collected in two ebook volumes – on sale between now and Halloween, and spend your summer and fall in the depths of space, on the backs of tyrannosaurs, or spinning through time! If you’re excited, leave a tip for the author when you buy – help make more stories like these!

Get the books here.

________________________

Stant Litore writes fiction about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, and time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future, as well as books about ancient Greek and sacred texts. He also teaches intensive crash courses for writers on character development and worldbuilding. You can find all of that on this website.

She-Ra, Cleaning the Couch, and a Day at House Litore

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River, my ten-year-old, was cleaning under the couch and was getting frustrated, so I told her she’s doing a better job at it than the Princesses of Power and the Best Friends Squad would.

“Really?” she asked.

“Yep! Just think. Princess Plumeria would see the problems under that couch and be like, ‘I will plant potatoes and strawberries and GIANT PURPLE FLOWERS in this couch!’ Poof. Potatoes everywhere. And pretty flowers. But STILL a mess. And Mermista would be like, ‘Ugh, really, I’ve got this, I mean, if it has to be done, I guess,’ and would lift her arms like this and SPLASH, FLOOD THE COUCH with waves and dolphins and little wriggly jellyfish, but it would still be a mess, just a wet mess. And Frosta would be like, ‘Stand back, princesses!’ ZAP! and the couch would be FROZEN.”

River: “Oh no! It would freeze your BUTT if you sat on it!”

Me: “Yep. It sure would. Not a good solution. And Bow would shoot an arrow at the couch…”

River: “And the couch would be covered in green goo!”

Me: “Yep. And Glimmer would be like SPARKLE SPARKLE SPARKLE! TAKE THAT EVIL COUCH! AAAAA! SPARKLE SPARKLE!!!! and it would be the shiniest messy couch in the universe. Even the dirt would be shiny.”

River: “Ew! Shiny dirt!”

Me: “And Adora would swing her sword and shout FOR THE HONOR OF GRAYSKULL and she’d be like, I’m gonna SHE-RA HEAL THIS COUCH!!! except Chop, slash, chop, she’d cut the couch in two!”

River: “Then there’d be TWO dirty couches!”

Me: “Yep. And then Catra shows up and she’s like, ‘Heyyyy Adora,’ and she tries to take care of the couch but she goes Scratch, Scratch, Scratch, and now the couch is all cut up…”

River: “Hahahahaha!”

Me: “And Catra goes ‘ARRRRRGHHHHH THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING, here, Scorpia, you do it.’ And Scorpia is like, ‘Yes! I’m on it! I’ve got to do this for Catra! Clack! Clack! Wow, this is really hard when you’re a scorpion princess and you don’t have hands, clack! clack! Don’t worry, Catra, I’ve got this, anything for my Catra, clack! clack!'”

River: “Catra’s so mean.”

Me: “Yeah, she’s a REALLY bad friend.”

River: “But what about Entrapta? She has moving hair!”

Me: “Oh yeah, so Princess Entrapta designs a bunch of tiny robots that pick up all the crumpled papers and half-eaten cookies and then she hacks the code on the vacuum cleaner and names the vacuum cleaner Emily and it vacuums up all the dust while Entrapta hangs upside down from the ceiling watching and enjoys a plate of tiny food. And she monitors how long the job takes and correlates all the data and says things like, “For SCIENCE!” and is like, “Faaaaaaascinating.” And then the couch is clean and spotless and Entrapta’s already distracted and busy programming the fireplace to open portals to other planets. Entrapta’s got this. She’s a scientist. But you’re literally doing better with that couch than ANYone else on the Best Friends Squad.”

River: “Whoa.”

Me: “So. What did we learn from this?”

River: “Learn all the science!”

Me: “You got it, River-bear.”

________________________

Stant Litore writes fiction about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, and time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future, as well as books about ancient Greek and sacred texts. He also teaches intensive crash courses for writers on character development and worldbuilding. You can find all of that on this website.

Young River is awesomeness incarnate. She likes She-Ra, mathematics, mysteries, and rockclimbing.

4 Stant Litore Omnibuses: So Much Story!

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You can get four Stant Litore series now in four omnibus editions!

The Zombie Bible
Biblical tales retold as episodes in humanity’s long struggle against hunger … and the hungry dead. This omnibus includes Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, Strangers in the Land, No Lasting Burial, and I Will Hold My Death Close.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942458207
Direct store: https://stantlitore.itch.io/zombiebible

Ansible: A Thousand Faces
A hijabi shapeshifter and her band of time travelers stand between humanity and the long dark. This omnibus includes Ansible: Season One, Ansible: Season Two, and Ansible: Season Three, the complete saga.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732086982
Direct store: https://stantlitore.itch.io/ansible-omnibus

Colosseums for Dinosaurs
In a far future dystopia, gladiators compete on dinosaurback aboard orbital space colosseums. This omnibus includes The Running of the Tyrannosaurs, Nyota’s Tyrannosaur, and The Screaming of the Tyrannosaur.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173208694X
Direct store: https://stantlitore.itch.io/colosseums-for-dinosaurs

Dante’s Heart
Two linked novellas in which a monster hunter, a naiad, a geneticist, an immortal cyborg, a blind necromancer, and others embark on humanity’s last pilgrimage across a universe inhabited by marvels and torn by the violence of the past. This omnibus includes the duology Dante’s Heart and Dante’s Rose, with more than 20 full-color illustrations.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732086915
Direct store: https://stantlitore.itch.io/dantes-heart

Ansible: Season 3 is Here!

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HERE AT LAST: ANSIBLE SEASON 3. I am excited to announce the arrival of my new novel and the thrilling conclusion to the Ansible Saga!

Available today in kindle and epub at my direct store

Or pre-order on Amazon

Or get it in paperback

Audiobook forthcoming

In a future where humanity is a refugee species, can refugees from the past save us?

The pneumavores (“soul eaters”) have taken the earth and have spread to every planet humanity has ever touched. Now a Syrian refugee, a thirteenth-century librarian, and a hijabi shapeshifter from the far future must travel across space and time to defend humanity from this intergalactic and devouring evil.

They’ll find allies: A wheelchair gunslinger from far-future Beijing. A legion of women soldiers wielding Spinning Saws that can slice through predators that only barely exist inside our universe. A strange child-empath who can hear all of humanity’s suffering at every instant in history. A firestarter-goddess from our prehistory. Together, they will face a species that travels across time and feeds on terror itself.

The battle for our future starts today.

Ansible Season Threehttps://stantlitore.itch.io/ansible-season-three

Get Season One here: https://stantlitore.itch.io/ansible-season-one

Get Season Two here: https://stantlitore.itch.io/ansible-season-two

Thank You, Medical Professionals

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I am not the President of the United States. If I were, I would probably be tweeting. And what I would be tweeting would be information and stories about how exhausted doctors in New York are working long hours and fighting for their patients’ lives. I’d be thanking the nurses who watch patient after patient die and retreat to cry in private. I’d be talking about the medical students who have graduated early to be drafted into Operation Kick Pandemic Ass. I’d be talking about more junior med students who are volunteering as gophers to run errands, provide childcare, deliver coffee and food, and otherwise take care of medical personnel who don’t even have time to sit down. I would tweet things that our medical personnel need to hear right now. I’d let them know we have their back. I’d let all those paramedics and RNs and LPNs know that they’re going to get affordable access to health insurance or student loan relief and all the PPE I can find for them because by God do they ever deserve the help right now. I’d give them a number to call if they’re feeling hopeless and suddenly alone in the dark because they just watched too many patients die, because I wouldn’t want to lose them to despair or suicide. I’d let them know we’re thinking about them and that their country thanks them for their service. If I regarded myself as a “wartime President,” I’d be thanking our “military” in scrubs profusely, and I’d be telling our people about who our heroes are. At 8 p.m. each night, I’d say, “LET’S GO HOWL FOR THE MEDICAL PEOPLE, AMERICANS!” and I’d post a video of me and my family howling. Because if I was going to be silly on Twitter, I’d be silly for a good purpose. That’s what I would do if I were President.

As a private citizen, I’ll say to the medical people who are among my contacts and whose time reading blogs or Facebook has been limited by how overwhelmed many of them are: Thank you for everything you’re doing. My family and I thank you for your service. We’re so glad we’ve got you. Thank you.

Stant Litore

Gratitude

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Here are a few things I am thankful for right now. Just a few, I can list more later. Because gratitude is the enemy of despair and a curative for fear. And because my faith teaches me to unforget what I have been given, whether my community is experiencing sunlight or hailstorm.

I am grateful for a house full of books.

For this soft bed, when I am fatigued.

For friends who gather around us in a rough season.

For my strong wife, a fierce partner when there’s a crisis. And whose voice is soft and lovely this morning. I am thankful the house is quiet and she could sleep in.

I am grateful for my readers, who love the stories and have amazing and unexpected stories of their own.

I am grateful for my Patreon members, who keep this wild endeavor of mine funded and help keep the children fed and well.

I am grateful for the talent and skill of our local medical community. I am thinking especially of Inara’s doctors and providers.

I am grateful for Inara’s fierceness, Cirdan’s kindness, and River’s laughter.

I am thankful for this very warm blanket right now.

I am thankful for this bookmark, which reminds me where I left off and keeps me from falling into the barbarism of folding down the corners of pages. (Shudder.)

I am grateful we have clean water to drink.

I am grateful I get to tell all of you stories.

Stant

Wonder and Adventure in the Time of Coronavirus

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We may be stuck at home during the time of coronavirus, but we can still have adventures. Want to ride tyrannosaurs, time travel, or battle the ancient Bronze Age dead? Now’s your chance! All of these books are 10% off until April 6, when you buy directly from me at itch.io. Or get ALL of the stories in one $33 bundle!

https://itch.io/s/28590/adventures-while-quarantined-a-bundle-of-worlds-to-explore

You will be able to download the books as MOBI (kindle) or EPUB (everything else) files for enjoyment on your e-reader of choice. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the books!

Nitocris, the Babylonian Queen Who Doesn’t Have Time for Your Nonsense

The Gate of Babylon
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The Queen of Babylon was sharp of wit, full of sass, and had exactly zero patience for the follies of men in power. Upon Nitocris’s death, at her orders her body was placed in a tomb directly over the main gate of the city, with the consequence that many kings chose to go around the back way rather than risk the ill luck of passing in all their panoply beneath a corpse. On the outside of her tomb was an inscription telling the kings that would rule after her time that a great treasure was laid within her tomb: “If any king of Babylon is short of cash, let him open up my tomb and take what he likes, but only at the most dire need. The treasure will do him no good if taken under other circumstances.” For a long time the tomb of Nitocris went undisturbed. At last, Darius had it broken open; he was irritated that he always had to enter the city by the back way like a man of lesser station, and it galled him that there was a treasure there just waiting to be taken. So he violated Nitocris’s tomb. Inside, he found not so much as a single coin. Just a corpse. And an inscription beside it:

If you hadn’t been such a greedy jerk, willing to grab money by any despicable means, you would never have violated the rest of the dead. —Nitocris.

The tale is from Herodotus, so it may or may not have actually happened; it isn’t always easy to corroborate Herodotus, a fact that he himself freely acknowledges. The “father of historians,” he had a way of collecting stories, including contradictory ones, presenting them each to the reader, and inviting the reader to consider which were likely and which were not. The tale of Nitocris is among my many favorites.

_______________________

Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!

What is a Comma Splice? (And Other Tales of Grammar and Cosmic Horror)

Comma splice - image of books lying open
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What is a comma splice?

CW: Grammar and Gore

Like the mighty Dickens before me, I will use a comma splice if I judge the time right, if the stars are aligned and it is time to afflict grammarians with madness and woe as they gaze helplessly into the abyss of a cosmos that is uncaring of our punctuation and our futile attempts at order. However, I can never do so without also at that moment remembering the words of an English teacher who cautioned me and my fellow teaching assistants in an effort to prevent our venturing into such unwholesome magic.

This is what she said:

“I need to tell you what a comma splice is like. This is what it’s like. Picture a big ole snow slope and there’s a sled about to plummet down that slope like a greased piglet, and there’s this little child. The sled slips and the child reaches out and grabs hold of that sled and tries to stop it and you know what happens? I will TELL you what happens. That big ole sled just RIPS the child’s arm right off, and the sled careens on down the hill like a politician running from a scandal and the child’s arm is just flapping in the wind and spraying blood all over the snow, blood everywhere, just geysers of blood! Now imagine it had been a grown man on the hill instead and he reached out and grabbed hold of that ole sled and it stopped. It stopped because that man was strong enough to hold it, unlike the poor child bleeding out in the snow while his arm is off down the hill waving at the angels. See, that grown man is a semicolon and he could stop that independent clause dead in its tracks, but that poor child was just a comma. So every time you see a stray comma flapping in the breeze between two independent clauses where it has no earthly business being, you just remember that child’s arm spraying blood. That’s a comma splice. Now go teach your students that. They won’t forget it.”

Between the comma splice child, and the unclosed parenthesis just lurking around like a flasher in a trenchcoat bothering good people who just want to go about their sentences, and the sentence with passive voice that was like a lonely grad student who went camping and was expecting her boyfriend to meet her but a bear came first and ripped off half her face and took out one of her eyes and ate her, and after the mauling they found the body but not the bear, and nobody knew who or what had torn the poor grad student to pieces and cracked her bones for the marrow, because her sentence used the passive voice and only had a direct object and no subject, a body without any visible agent of its demise…

Well, between those things, I did not leave the assistantship unscathed. (My first published fiction was horror.)

The ways of punctuation proved dark and terrifying and fascinating and full of grim and grisly truth, like a Flannery O’Connor story, but for our teacher, proper punctuation was our line of defense, and our students’, against the otherwise inevitable predations of a lawless and hungry universe. I remain, as she predicted, both appalled and unforgetful.

Stant Litore

_______________________

Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!

A First Read for the New Year

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Hi readers! If you loved Lives of Unforgetting, I’d like to suggest No Lasting Burial for your first read in the new year. It is my best book. It features a dying city. A lake where the fish have disappeared and the dead lurk underwater. A one-armed woodcarver in search of love. An outcast rebel with a cause, a battle-horn, and a scar for each of the dead he’s sent home. A widow fighting for the lives of her sons, who gave birth in a tomb so soldiers wouldn’t find her and the child. A disgraced priest, tormented by the night his people were attacked and he ran away. A fisherman-poet who dreams of the night he heard angels calling to each other across the hills. A homeless migrant who needs her voice back, if anyone will listen. And a traveling miracle-worker with dirt on his face and ears that hear every cry of pain and grief in every century, and who starts stirring everything that’s dead and unburied…

Cover Reveal: Ansible Season Three

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Hello readers,

I am delighted to share with you the cover (with art by Stevie Rae) for Ansible: Season Three, forthcoming from Stant Litore in 2020!

Ansible-Season-3

A Syrian refugee, a thirteenth-century librarian, and a hijabi shapeshifter from the far future must travel across space and time to defend humanity from an intergalactic and devouring evil.

Season Three will include, in one volume, the next three stories in the series:

  • “Ansible: Rasha’s Letter” (novella)
  • Ansible: Falling from the Sky (novel)
  • “Knocking at the Door” (short story)

You can get Seasons One and Two in paperback, kindle, or audiobook editions:

ansibleseason1_frontcover_1000   ansibleseasontwo_kcover1

Ansible: Season One  |   Ansible: Season Two

 

8 Years of Storytelling!

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October 5 will be here soon: the eighth anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Death Has Come Up into Our Windows. It is a very raw, emotional, visceral book about grief and justice, love and loss and endurance. I remain moved by it, many years later. Its thematic concerns are still the same questions that drive me. It was the first installment in The Zombie Bible, a retelling of the tale of Jeremiah.

Last year, I reflected on it while writing Lives of Unforgetting:

I have always found myself moved and troubled by Jeremiah’s story. Like Cassandra of Troy, cursed by the god Apollo to see the future but be believed by no one, Jeremiah walks the streets of ancient Jerusalem before its fall, pleading with the economically well-to-do, the religiously content, and the politically complacent. Look at our city, he demands. One child is sacrificed to the flames on the hill, while another starves in the street while just indoors, on the other side of a wall, an affluent woman with well-fed children bakes cakes to Astarte, and sings so that she will not hear the screams of another woman’s child.

“I set Jeremiah’s complaints against injustice and idolatry (which he saw as a root cause of injustice) to fiction in my novel Death has Come up into Our Windows. I wanted to try and put that prophet’s heart and his words of fire on the page for a modern reader.”

And in a note at the beginning of Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, I said this about the story’s genre and its thematic concerns:

“The crisis created by an outbreak of the walking dead offers a telling diagnostic of those flaws in the human condition that resurface, century upon century: our tendency to let problems fester untended until they become crises, our frequent inability to work together for a common good, our quickness to forget the lessons our grandparents learned at the cost of much sweat and blood, and the extent to which our privileged classes ignore and deny responsibility for the plight of the impoverished and the disinherited. Our ancestors often described the attacks of the hungry dead as acts of either divine retribution for human sins or divine abandonment in utter grief at human evil, and in at least one sense they may have been correct: the rapid rise of an outbreak is nearly always a consequence of our own failings.”

I think the story may be all the more timely and desperate now, even more than in 2011. Certainly when I wrote it, starting in the summer of 2009, I was thinking as much of our America as I was of Jeremiah’s ancient and dying city.

If you’ve never read the book, I hope you might. It is part nightmare, part cry of defiance in the dark, part love letter from me as a young writer with a heart on fire. It is here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012R7PFU8

In October, the book will be 8 years old. It has been a vigorous, exhausting, hopeful, exhilarating eight years. And it is still only the beginning. So many stories yet to tell.

Stant Litore

DHCW

A Little Bit of Celebration for the Day

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Look who is growing!

Diana1

It’s my Great Pyrenees puppy, Diana of Themyscira. She is known affectionately around the house, though, as Thunderfloof. She has been an enormous help to me in weathering the winter depression I get; with her, I managed to sail my raft over the surface of depression’s gray sea without sinking fully in, this winter.

She is beautiful and good-hearted:

Diana2

Look who else has been growing! Even more exciting – It’s my son, Círdan Leto, named for the Shipwright in The Lord of the Rings and for the Duke and the God Emperor in the Dune series. He is exploring. He is two now – how swiftly Lady Time leaps when children dance with her!

CirdanCirdan1

My daughters are also thriving. River is excelling at math and science, and Inara is now trying to learn to run – she’ll run a few steps, stumble, and try again, a few times a week. That is how much she thinks of the prediction she was once given that she would never stand or walk…

Thank you all for following my work! Whether you’re doing it on this blog, on Facebook, or on Patreon – where you can get the behind-the-scenes look at everything that’s getting created and help fund more of it. It means so much to me.

I hope you’ve been enjoying the books! The next up – working vigorously on it now – will be Ansible: Season Three.

Stant Litore

Books

Reminder to Self

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Reminder to Self: I am not writing for everyone.

That reader over there, in tears and a little overwhelmed with life, who tonight could really use the adrenaline rush of riding a tyrannosaur across an orbital space station, that’s who I’m writing for.

That reader over there who has just been bricked up behind an authoritarian wall of out-of-context biblical verses and can’t draw a good breath of air and who would really appreciate having that house-of-cards wall shattered and spun into a life-affirming, take-you-over-the-rainbow, blow-the-roof-off-the-church-and-come-to-Jesus whirlwind, that’s who I’m writing for.

And that boy in me, fighting giant invisible birds with a stick in the forest behind his farm, that’s who I’m writing for.

Can’t write for everyone. But I can write for them.

Stant Litore

Here in the American West

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Uranium

There is so much to love about this story. First, the couple involved have such great names for characters in a story: Stephen Jennings and Rachel Rivera. Second, the uranium and the rattlesnake were both legal in Oklahoma (the open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe, not so much). Third, the vehicle was stolen. Fourth, Rachel Rivera was a felon. Fifth, Jennings told the cops (jokingly, one assumes, but let’s not assume, because we’ve got us a story to tell) that with his pet snek and the jar of uranium, he figured he might make a super snake. Sixth, the poor guy got pulled over for … having expired tags. So there’s Jennings, backcountry rebel in his stolen ride with his felon Rachel in the passenger seat with her firearm ready, his deathkillsnake in the back, his jar of uranium, his bottle of Kentucky’s not-quite-finest firewater, all ready to rev it up and head straight across the American West to spread a trail of mayhem, carnage, and slithery wonder … and then he gets pulled over because the tags got too old. The best laid plans of snakes and men go oft awry, and bureaucracy is the grim reaper who comes for us all in the end.

And if that isn’t a quintessential American story, I don’t know what is.

Stant Litore

I’m Not Here to Write You a Small World

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I’ve been thinking about something. Every once in a while, a reader will object, with a tone of moral indignation, that they don’t like “PC” fiction (I think they mean “politically correct”; I don’t think they’re objecting to thriller novels about desktop computers) or that they don’t think I should be “forcing diversity” or writing “political fiction” or “ramming a message down their throat” or “rubbing a message in their face.” It’s always weird to me when a reader describes a fictional story with elements they dislike using metaphors for bodily invasion or assault, but that’s a topic for another time.

What I am thinking about is why there is a seemingly fundamental disconnect between these particular readers and other readers (including myself) who I write for. I think it has to do with how we have defined our communities – in religious terms, with who we recognize as our neighbors.

When I tell a science fiction story with Muslim characters, or characters with various ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, levels of physical ability, etc., these objecting readers think I am “forcing” these elements on them because what they have defined as their community does not include or welcome people who are different from them in these ways, and the presence of people different from them is seen as an invasion or violation.

But I don’t write the characters I write because I have a “message.” Or to be “PC.” Or to ram a character “down someone’s throat.” I write the characters I write because people in my community, people I love, my family and friends and colleagues – they inspire and are reflected in the characters I write. My characters are influenced by people I’ve known.

There is a 150-year-old Chinese gunslinger in a wheelchair in my current work in progress not because I want to rub diversity in a reader’s face, but because my daughter is in a wheelchair and she is as fierce as a gunslinger, and because several of my dearest college friends were from China (Yi and I used to stay up all night playing Starcraft; I usually lost), and because I think in a future scifi novel, people might live to 150.

And I wrote into Ansible: Season Three a love story between two bi women not because I have a “political” message in mind but because some people very dear to me are bi. And they have love stories. When I write science fiction stories about people marooned in alien bodies in which they never felt at home … I know people who live that experience, though their bodies are not literally extraterrestrial. That’s the scifi part.

To me, the presence of these fictional characters isn’t an invasion of the reader or an authorial intrusion that I have jammed into the story; their presence is just a given. These are people. Readers who object think that I am “adding” people into the fictional world that they don’t want there, and who they think I shouldn’t want there. Unwelcome people. But I’m not adding anyone to the fictional world. I’m just refusing to subtract people who are already IN the world we share together.

If I write a hijabi bi superheroine, I didn’t write her because I want us to be “PC.” I wrote her because I wanted to tell her story. It would be utterly exhausting to censor my fiction and shrink my imagined worlds and their casts of characters merely in order to accommodate the bigotries or discomfort of some readers.

If your own world is small, then good stories might be uncomfortable. And maybe need to be. Because good stories make our world bigger.

(But if it is truly too uncomfortable, there are so many stories out there that are written with smaller worlds inside them. Readers can go read those stories and inhabit those smaller worlds if that is truly what they want. But I don’t have any obligation to my readers to write them a smaller world. That is not what I do.)

Stant Litore

Something I Want to Say

Standard

I have been told a few times recently that I cannot love God or serve God faithfully without condemning my LGBTQ+ neighbors, or without supporting policies and actions that threaten their rights, their lives, or their wellbeing. A few of my siblings in the faith believe that.

And I answer, “I think you are confusing me with someone who worships a small god. My God is not a small god. My God does not care about outward appearances; my God cares about the heart. My God is less interested in whether you squat or stand when you pee than with whether you love. I say ‘my God’ but he is not ‘my’ anything; I am trying to be his. I would be ashamed of owning a god, especially a small one. The God I love never told me to sit in judgment over my neighbor. He told me to love my neighbor, recklessly and deeply and without conditions, as he does.”

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Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!